Survey details need for H-2B visa workers in seafood industry
HOOPERS ISLAND, Md. – The longer President Donald Trump waits to release H2B visas, the more the future of the crab meat industry here on Delmarva gets bleaker, at least that what those on Hooper’s Island say. That’s why, on Monday, they gathered to send a message to the federal government in hopes of getting President Trump’s attention.
“I’m not certain how I feel about a time where we can’t have fresh Maryland crab meat,”Aubrey Vincent, the Vice President of Lindy’s Seafood, said.
And leaders of the local seafood industry say a future in Maryland with no crab meat could be possible, if President Trump doesn’t release the visas.
“This is life or death for us, if we don’t get it, we’re done, that’s just point blank, that’s the way it is,” Brian Hall, the owner of GW Hall & Sons Seafood, said.
Dozens of seafood workers, state leaders, and Hoopers Island locals packed into Phillips and Sons on Monday to talk about the findings of a survey done on the issue by the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
“What they found is pretty much what we’ve been saying for years, that these workers have a huge positive impact on our community, and are a huge part of our Maryland seafood industry,” Vincent said.
The survey also touched on the difficulty of finding local workers to fill these jobs.
“Younger people want a full-time job with benefits year round, nobody wants a seasonal job, which I understand, and this island, as you see, we don’t have no labor pool at all,” Hall said.
And, of course, the financial impact that losing this industry would cause.
“Just the amount of money lost in the Maryland economy because it’s going to affect everyone from the processor who doesn’t actually have the physical worker in their plant, right down to the watermen, the box suppliers,” Vincent said.
That’s why industry leaders are pleading with the President to save not only their businesses, but the livelihood that makes Hoopers Island what it is.
“Mr. Trump, please release all of the visas as soon as possible, we need to get to work by April 1st, thank you,” Hall said.